Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Arsenal 2 v Everton 1 - Barclays Premier League

Tuesday 1st February - Emirates Stadium
Barclays Premier League
Arsenal (0) 2
(Andrey Arshavin 70, Laurent Koscielny 75)
Everton (1) 1
(Louis Saha 24)
Admission £how effing much!? It was a one off and I'll take the hit this time.
Programme £3, Attendance 60,014
In which one team took advantage of a monumental error by the match officials to go ahead in the first half, but then justice was seen to be done when the 'injured party' turned the tables and claimed all three points in the second.
Cue both sides spitting out their dummies and trying to occupy the moral high ground over it all.
At least it gave this lacklustre game a talking point and something for the press hacks to gossip about for a few days.
Maybe if Sian Massey, last weeks news this week's forgotten woman, had been running the line instead she would've picked up on Louis Saha's transgression, given that she probably has a better understanding of the offside rule than the match officials who were present tonight.
The home fans chanted 'cheat' at Saha. He received the ball unmarked in front of the goal, the referee and his assistant never called the obvious offside, so he played to the whistle, it's not cheating.
Late in the game Theo Walcott was apparently injured, but got to his feet to 'run it off' when Arsenal went forward, only to hit the deck again when Everton cleared their lines and broke away. Nobody levelled any allegations of 'gamesmanship' his way though.
It was a bit scrappy at times and maybe, given the apparent 'worth' of all the talent on show, one could have expected a little bit more in the way of guile and endeavour out of a game like this. But big time football is a results and profits based industry where entertainment and value for money aren't very high on the list of priorities for clubs.
Evidently, if the reaction of the home 'faithful' was anything to go by, a 58,000 strong outpouring of tangible relief is a quite noisy experience.
Though how many of those present were actually regular fans who go to most games as opposed to a ground full of day trippers and tourists (AKA me n' my erstwhile sidekick) is open to conjecture. The Emirates experience would certainly be out of my price range on a regular basis, that's for sure.
Andrey Arshavin's part in the plot after coming on as a substitute might go some way towards alleviating the 'pantomime bad guy' booing some sections of the crowd indulged in when he entered the fray.
A not entirely convincing win for the Gunners, but a very important one never the less.
Herbert Chapman, born in Kiveton Park, South Yorkshire and played for Worksop Town (and some other teams).
As a manager he took two different clubs to three Division 1 League titles (an achievement that'll never be equalled), namely Huddersfield Town & Arsenal.
This pub named after him is on Holloway Road, a short walk from the Emirates Stadium.
I'm sure there will be countless match reports available through a variety of sources that you can consult for further details, so I'll spare you my overview of the nights events.
Suffice to say, I've seen better games this season ;-)
I'm a great admirer of the style of football Arsene Wenger's 'invincibles' played a few years ago when they strolled to the Premier League title at a canter.
Tonight's display was nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as the Arsenal class of 2003/04 though, but they reckon grinding out results when your not playing particularly well is the mark of a successful side, whoever they are.
The Emirates is an awesome Stadium, I used to really like Highbury too, but Arsenal outgrew the place and had to move to compete with their main rivals at the 'greed is good' end of the football scale.
This was only the second Premier League game I've ever been too, though I've seen hundreds in the old first division as it used to be. The previous one was at Blackburn Rovers some years ago, because I wanted to complete my 'visited list' of all 92 'league' grounds.
For a while I achieved that aim too, not that I ever bothered applying for a badge or certificate or 'owt daft like that, but I now have to visit the new (ish) grounds at Cardiff City, Colchester United, Leicester City and Manchester City to get my full set up to date again. Oh and some backwater hamlet called Chesterfield ... and next season there will be a new stadium in Brighton too, but I'm not in any undue hurry to get around to the task of ticking them all off with any particular urgency, they'll all keep.
And I might have to save up for a while first too.